I’ve been here before
I certainly did quit the internet (for a few months). I would reference some post on my blog to prove that I am a man out of his time and that I have done this before with varying degrees of success, but I deleted everything on my Tumblr from when I started, back in ‘08.
This current insanity all started when I was spacing out on my iPhone (again) back in early December. I had fallen into a habit of being bored, or feeling anxious (like I was missing something) or wanting to be deviant and I would pull out my phone [endless scroll] and 20-30 minutes later have nothing to show for it except annoyance, shame and hopelessness. A little overboard with those adjectives? Probably. I have a reputation for being a maudlin Irishman. I have seen and read things on the Internet that I wish I never had subjected myself to, but I’m not going to go into the minutia of my dysfunctional technophobic maladies; I think they’re all too common, however, I will say that every one of us that is engaged with the larger population through the Internet at one point feels like they have to stop looking at their phone and go to bed so that they can get up in the morning and look at their phone and then look at their phone for the rest of their life.
I did what any sensible man would do. I dropped my iPhone, watched it tumble in a slow motion flash of glass and metal and reveled in the dull thud of a screen shattering face-plant. I kicked it into a mud puddle to finish the job.
I was ecstatic. The temptation to be led astray had been dealt a serious blow that day. I was a man on a mission from that point onwards. I went on a digital witch hunt. I scoured archived gmail messages for obscure login details to services that I had signed up for the beta release of so that I could login and DELETE my account. No temporary disabling for this vigilante, no sir. My aim was to erase my Internet existence. I executed with extreme prejudice from Plurk, Instagram and FriendFeed to About.me, Google+ and then around the horn of 4square and blogger and MORE. I wielded the yes-I-am-sure-I-want-to-delete-my-account-button-clicking power with wrath… and I felt free.
My wife, Amy does a better job writing about this experience than I do. We got a subscription to the WSJ and started reading the paper instead of Google News. We got refurbished Motorolas and dropped our data plans. We talked about the mental space that we had discovered once the thinking in status updates fever passed. We enjoyed moments in the moment and without any need to document them and share them with the whole world. We remembered what it was like growing up in the late 80s - early 90s in a small town; before mobile phones and the Internet crept into your private life.
But like the last bastion of our idyllic childhood, things change. I keep pushing on the advancing front of time thinking that I can send it backwards into simpler times. I keep losing. Father Time is undefeated. Like I do so often when I have to change, I let down my guard and hang my head in recognition of the stark reality that has beaten me. I am a modern man. I live now. Here. Yes, there are things that I will do differently, but this is the future that I wondered about when I was a scared 17 year old father graduating high school and venturing out into the wide world with my beautiful best friend. Today is what we had talked about when we laughed at the old and out of touch 30 somethings we would become when our daughter would be doing what we were just walking through. This is where we are, and by ‘this’ I mean a consumer culture of moralistic, therapeutic deists that vomit our opinions and desires all over each other in an increasing attempt at connection cum anonymity. A place of threatening ostracism (or worse) if we’re not tolerant to each other. A landscape of injustice: racism, rape, human trafficking, slavery, genocide. A world full of people not much different from the generations before us, just with different means.
So this has led me to come back to the digital frontier. It’s not like I would have an easier time navigating the precipice of the narrow road of Christianity if I lived in the 1950s. When Christ said the way was narrow and hard and few are those that would find it, he said that to every generation throughout all time. It’s never been a natural human desire to pick up a cross that you will die on and march down the executioner’s road. If in this day and age we live in a more interconnected way than ever before, then I guess these struggles that would have been written down in a private journal and most likely been lost and forgotten are just as simply shared with the world. If this is a part of how the modern world functions, then I guess I’ll participate. If this brave new world is advancing on blogs and status updates and tweets, then I guess I need to pick up my cross and start on that narrow way again.